Grant Grill in US Grant Hotel Downtown

Invited to a dinner at the Grant Grill in US Grant Hotel, downtown San Diego. Thought it might be useful for some to have a review of the food.

Our dinners consisted of warm bread, amuse of minted green cold soup, wedge salad and tomato salad, fillet and halibut mains, and chocolate mousse desert.

The bread, a warm round polished with egg wash, flavored with garlic and highly salted; warm inside, nice texture, comforting with butter, though the salt and garlic distracted a little from the better qualities of texture. Felt it was a nice idea that was excessively tarted up.

The amuse, served in vodka shot glasses, was nice and raised my hopes for the meal as a whole. Somehow, the cold soup had a savory flavor without being too salty, almost like a meat broth, with no beefy flavor.

The salads were all right; but the tomatoes were small and disappointing, though dressed adequately, the “heritage” fruits were a little tough-skinned and with no more flavor than standard non-heritage versions. The wedge was served with an egg/blue cheese dressing, no iceberg, and was ok, but didn’t blow me away.

The halibut was sauced badly, the balsamic not reduced adequately, much too salty and rather unpleasant. The fillet was decent, but tasted of brisket somehow and the potatoes, labeled as marrow, were served on a marrow bone but not much taste. Both mains had some carrots included on the plates, carrot “balls” actually, a little cold and mushy.

The desert, a chocolate mousse served in a coffee cup and a couple biscotti, was nice; but the chocolate was too pudding-like, lacking over-the-top, arresting richness. Some orange zest (or something) was needed to add some sexiness, but not here.

So this was nice food, better than standard banquet fare, but probably should have been better, especially the halibut.

This was a saturday night, and there was some music and the bar was hopping; so the atmosphere was lively, but the food was not what it might have been.

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Constantly there seem to be mixed reviews of Grant Grill. I’ve been to the lounge on a few occasions for lunch and happy hour, and for those the environment and quality of service, in good part, offset the less-than-stellar-but-tasty food in terms of overall experience.

I haven’t been now for at least two or three months, and it was much longer before that. But it’s a neat place to have a cocktail and snacks during happy hours, from time to time, so when the rare opportunity presents itself, I go. Very classy environment.

How the heck can they serve as wedge salad without iceberg? Great review, but very generous to say the food was nice.

“How the heck can they serve as wedge salad without iceberg?”

It seems that a lot of places these days are using Little Gem (i.e. baby romaine) in place of the iceberg on a wedge salad. It’s sturdy enough to stand up to the usual accompaniments; usually cut in half so the core can still somewhat hold it together. Don’t know if that’s what the Grant used but it’s probably the most likely option.

No iceberg… a faux wedge IMO! You need the iceberg to sop up all that creamy goodness.

I guess I’m just too traditional. Hope the Blue Cheese Dressing is rich and chunky and the real bacon bits to be plentiful.

Food and restaurants would be very boring if chefs would only use always the same ingredients - I would hope more chefs start playing around with “well-known dishes” and add their interpretation

Wow, romaine, now that’s really stretching the creativity I’d say. Maybe we’ll see a wedge made of tofu.

Where did I say that romaine is a very creative idea ?

I think Doctorchow captures the odd, in-between quality of Grant Grill pretty well; and his comment helped me to understand in part why I wasn’t more critical, why I kept using the adjective “nice”: the service was excellent. It was considerate but not hovering. I felt that I wanted to describe the food, that food talk followers in San Diego might be interested, but I underestimated how non-food issues inflected my review; the service was excellent, the ambience of the place seemed positive, especially on the Saturday night, and I had been invited to a dinner and didn’t want to suggest that I was being critical of those who invited me, or somehow ungrateful. There is another factor as well, which is the fact that the grill is in such a fancy, upscale hotel. Perhaps that factor works against the food, somehow, by creating an expectation that the food ought to measure up to the overall “fanciness.” I agree with Doctorchow that it is a nice place for drinks and snacks.

Well put. The strength of Grant Grill is a polite room with polite, polished service. The food is “good” but you’ll never walk out of there raving about the progressive flavor combinations.

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The food has from time to time some excellent spikes of greatness - we had one of the best foie gras dishes in a long time a few months ago. And as much as the food could be better sometimes the cocktail program is one of the best and most creative in SF

Others have said that; I haven’t experienced it personally. Mixed reviews.

Boring, Playing Around would be my interpretation of the attempt of being creative. I don’t mind, but leave some of the classics alone.

Be creative, call it something else.

Isn’t it why you go out eating - you order a dish with certain expectations and you get a different interpretation from the chef. The standard ones I can make at home.

No. That’s not why I go out eating.

I go to share some time with others (mostly my wife!) in an atmosphere of service and quality, without cleaning up afterwards. I go out to have our meals prepared for us and served to us. This allows the diners to focus on each other, their observations about life and listen and learn their points of view.

I will order a classic in the hopes that the chef will choose quality ingredients I may be unable to source, and have expertise well beyond my own. If they can prepare a steak better than I, BRING IT! If they make a cassoulet with traditional methods that exceeds my previous experiences, great!

Certainly I want to experience new flavors and new combinations, and I enjoy chef’s tasting menus most of all- I like to enjoy what they believe is their personal expression of the craft.

But sometimes I’d like a perfect execution of a classic dish- and I dine out to get it.

But beside the “without cleaning up” and the dishes being “served to you” isn’t eating at home also about time with others and to “focus on each other, their observations about life and listen and learn their points of view”


But without interruption, out of the usual environment, etc, etc.

No cleaning up
food served
fresh environment

These are not to be dismissed…

While I get your point, eating at home isn’t the same as eating out.

There are fewer distractions/interruptions - phones, kids, TVs, laundry - when dining out making it easier for one to actually listen to their dining companion(s) observations about life and learn their POVs. At home? Not so much…you’re in a familiar environment doing familiar things. Restaurant dining takes you out of the familiar, even if you’re a regular at some place.

And how many times has FN posted about the dreaded big screen TVs detracting from a dining experience.

I don’t know but we might eat quite differently at home than others but we always sit down as a family and don’t have any distractions (TV, phones, laundry - one might say dinner is our important time in the daily life where we do little compromises) and take our time to eat and discuss whatever we want. We are of course also interested in having a nice ambience etc when going out but it might also explain why we care more about interesting food than anything else at that time.


When did dining out become a game of chance.